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Motivations For Condom Use Examined

January 7, 2000

A note from TheBody.com: Since this article was written, the HIV pandemic has changed, as has our understanding of HIV/AIDS and its treatment. As a result, parts of this article may be outdated. Please keep this in mind, and be sure to visit other parts of our site for more recent information!

A study in the September issue of Health Psychology examines the motivations for condom use among heterosexuals aged 17 to 25.

Researchers conducted interviews with 1, 290 young adults who were not trying to conceive and had engaged in vaginal intercourse at least once in the six months preceding the survey. Respondents were asked about the frequency with which they used condoms, their motivations for using condoms, and whether they engaged in risky sexual behavior. They were also asked how effective they believed condoms were at preventing pregnancy and STDs/AIDS, whether they felt they were personally vulnerable to AIDS or other STDs, and whether they felt there were "costs" involved in using condoms such as loss of pleasure, lack of spontaneity, or inconvenience.

Of the respondents who had used condoms in the past six months, 48% reported using them for both pregnancy prevention and prevention of AIDS and other STDs, 41% used them primarily to prevent pregnancy, and 11% used them primarily or exclusively to prevent AIDS/STDs. Researchers also compared the behavior and attitudes of each of these groups of condom users to each other as well as to those respondents who did not use condoms.

Findings include:

  • Those who did not use condoms and those who used condoms to prevent pregnancy reported fewer lifetime partners, fewer casual partners in the previous six months, and fewer risky practices. In contrast, those motivated by disease prevention reported the riskiest pattern of both lifetime and six-month sexual behaviors.


  • Those who used condoms to prevent pregnancy reported higher self-efficacy for condom use than non-users, whereas the perceived self-efficacy of those who used condoms solely for disease prevention did not differ from any other group.



  • Those who used condoms sometimes or primarily to prevent disease reported higher perceived vulnerability to AIDS and other STDs.



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  • Those who used condoms sometimes or always to prevent pregnancy perceived fewer costs to using condoms than other groups.

The authors conclude that "motivational factors [are] important proximal determinants of condom use" and go on to suggest that efforts to promote the use of condoms should emphasize both pregnancy and disease prevention in order to reach all potential condom users.

For more information:

M.L. Cooper, et al, "Motivations for Condom Use: Do Pregnancy Prevention Goals Undermine Disease Prevention Among Heterosexual Young Adults?" Health Psychology, September, 1999, vol. 18, no. 5, pp. 464-74.

A note from TheBody.com: Since this article was written, the HIV pandemic has changed, as has our understanding of HIV/AIDS and its treatment. As a result, parts of this article may be outdated. Please keep this in mind, and be sure to visit other parts of our site for more recent information!



  
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This article was provided by Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States. It is a part of the publication SHOP Talk: School Health Opportunities and Progress Bulletin.
 
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